TAMPA, Fla. - With kids, school, and work all moving into people's homes during the novel coronavirus pandemic, it's easier than ever to be distracted, but experts warn parents to stay vigilant as the sunshine state sees a startling increase in an already-high statistic: child drownings.
Florida currently has 14 pediatric drownings since the beginning of the year, a 100% increase from the same time last year.
"The majority of the drownings did happen last month, between March and April," said Kari Bahour, the founder of Water Smart Tots, a local non-profit dedicated to eliminating child drownings.
Bahour says because families are spending more time in their homes, there are more distractions for parents and more opportunities for children to get near unattended pools.
"They’re more distracted with siblings, online learning, working online and just juggling lots of things," Bahour pointed out.
But distraction can lead to disaster.
"It doesn’t take long. It just takes a minute or two for a child to slip out, unnoticed, and find himself in trouble, whether it be their pool, a neighbor's pool or a pond. Water is everywhere," Bahour said.
She urges all parents and guardians to be vigilant.
"Double-check the doors, have a pool fence, safety barriers, and designate a water watcher to have their eyes on the water at all times," she suggested.
Swim instructors and water survival programs are currently considered non-essential businesses, but Bahour started a petition, urging the governor to issue changes. The petition can be viewed at www.change.org/drowningprevention.